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Looper

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Months ago while sitting in the theater awaiting the movie I came to see, I was hit by the Looper trailer. As the trailer ended all I remember is wanting to see more because I am a sucker for a good time travel movie. After watching I will tell you now Looper doesn’t disappoint. It has action, drama, thrills and a tiny bit of romance.

 In a mere 62 years from now time travel exists, but it’s illegal. That does not stop the mob from sending people they want murdered back to the past (2044), to assassins nicknamed “Loopers” that stand ready at a designated spot and time to shoot the victims as soon as they appear. The Loopers are paid with silver bars that arrive strapped on the bodies in which they spend on vehicles,clothes,drugs and women.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, when younger is recruited by Abe (Jeff Daniels) who was sent back in time to manage the Loopers.Joe is living the high life in a dismal looking future America,saving up his earnings so he can one day retire to France.  Complications occur when a new unseen mob boss named the Rainmaker starts sending back the Looper’s future selves to kill which is called “closing the loop”. So when the time comes when Joe goes to assassinate the next target only to find out it is his future self (Willis) he hesitates to pull the trigger giving future Joe a chance to escape.

Future Joe has a agenda of his own. To track down down and kill the Rainmaker who is now a child and change an event that is tragic to him in the future all while trying to avoid Abe and his mob. Young Joe, also on the run from Abe, ends up at a farmhouse where he meets Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid, who is definitely special ( do NOT get Cid angry). There are more twists and turns than this so I won’t spoil the ending.

This is the second time that writer-director Rian Johnson and Gordon-Levitt have teamed up. The 1st being the 2006 “Brick” which I enjoyed.I am now looking forward to watch his 2nd movie”The Brothers Bloom” which is next in my Netflix queue. Gordon-Levitt, Willis and Daniels give superb performances.The story is well-constructed with a few minor flaws. I would love to see the Looper universe get a series or a comic book series to explore more story lines. So do yourself a favor, geek out and see this movie. As of now it’s on my Top 10 movies of the year.

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The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

Real quick before you read on, there are some spoilers in this article. I don’t think anything in here will be a shock considering how old the comic version of The Dark Knight Returns is. If you haven’t read it, shame on you all I can say. You’ve really been missing out of something special.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller is the best Batman comic ever published in my opinion. When it came out Batman was transformed from a campy detective to a complete badass. In the comic, super-heroes become outlawed in the United States and Batman retires. Over a ten year period Gotham becomes worse and worse. Without Batman around to protect Gotham, a gang called The Mutants have become a plague on Gotham committing violent crimes without repercussion throughout the city. As Commissioner Gordon announces his retirement, Batman reappears and begins his one man fight against crime in Gotham. There is much more to the story like a female Robin, Superman getting his ass kicked by Batman, and a one armed Green Arrow, but I’m trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

DC Comics has taken this most fantastic Batman story and animated it. When I originally heard the title and saw it was part one, I was somewhat disappointed and thought it may be a way to easily double sales. Thank goodness this is not the case. The five issue series has been broken in half and gaps not in the comic have been added to make the story more cohesive. In Part one, Batman returns and puts an end to the Mutant gang by defeating its leader in a one on one fight to the death. Instead of the Mutant gang disbanding, Batman inspires them to become The Sons of Batman. Batman now has an army in The Sons of Batman who start protecting the people of Gotham instead of terrorizing them. The only thing missing from the animated version of The Dark Knight Returns is the internal dialog Batman has. Without the internal dialog in just the opening scene, a slightly different tone is set for the rest of the story. Bruce Wayne is racing a car and ends up crashing it near the end of the race. In the comic there is internal dialog where Bruce ponders about the crash being a good way to die but he can’t because he has more work to do, hinting to Bruce struggling with the idea of not being Batman anymore. At other points Batman’s age is a factor he worries about in internal dialog where he bargains with himself to continue on and not have a heart attack. Amazingly enough the extra parts added to the movie make up for this internal dialog in the comic.

The Dark Knight Returns manages to keep Frank Miller’s artwork and Klaus Janson’s colors from the comic yet give it an anime type style that really fits the story well. This is no surprise when you read the credits and find of the names are Japanese. Though there are parts in the animated version that are not in the comic, they are there for a reason and only make the story better. Peter Weller of Robocop fame voices Batman and does a great job of bringing us an older grittier Batman.

I recommend getting The Dark Knight Returns Part One and Part two when it comes out on Blueray to every comic geek out there. I hope when they release part two they also offer a version that has both parts meshed together into one long movie. If you’ve ever read a comic and wished for an animated version, this is it. If you haven’t read Batman The Dark Knight Returns I heartily recommend reading it.

On a side not many of Frank Miller’s comics have a cinematic quality to them. 300 and Sin City are just a couple of examples that have been adapted into movies. Over at Marvel Frank Miller did a run of Daredevil before working on Batman and wrote some of the best Daredevil issues ever written. The character of Electra was not only introduced in this run but also killed. Daredevil is taken from a super high to a super low throughout the story that would make a fantastic movie or animated series of movies. Frank Miller also did the artwork on the daredevil run and would look fantastic in the same anime style Batman The Dark Knight Returns was done in.

Here is a trailer for of The Dark Knight Returns Part 1:

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Dredd 3D

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Welcome to the future. Welcome to the wasteland that is America. Welcome to Mega City 1, a metropolis that spans from Boston to Washington D.C. A city with a population of 800 million, where over 17,000 crimes are reported daily with only “judges” to try to clean up the streets..
 
Now I went to this movie with the bad taste of the 1995 movie still in my mouth (mostly from Rob Schneider) but eager to see what director Pete Travis had to offer in regard the 1977 British hero made famous by John Wagner.  I walked out wanting more and hoping down the line there will be a sequel.

The story starts with Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), the feared, gritty, ruthless judge, jury and executioner patrolling the streets with his “Lawmaster” motorbike and doing what he does best:  chasing down criminals and dispensing judgement. Dredd comes to realize there is a new drug on the streets called Slo-Mo, which gives the illusion of slowing down time. The special effects and the 3D element heighten the scenes of junkies when using Slo-Mo and when the thugs try to have a shoot out with Dredd while still on the high of Slo-Mo.

Dredd is called to the Hall of Justice to break in a rookie, a mutant psychic named Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Their 1st assignment is to investigate a triple homicide in the Peach Trees tower. The tower is ruled by a prostitute-turned-drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her clan of thugs and junkies.  All hell breaks loose when Ma-Ma puts the tower in lock-down and sends her gang to kill Dredd and Anderson. I won’t spoil the whole story, but I was satisfied when the brutality and violence kicked in, and let me tell you, the bullets and the body count are aplenty.

Some people have already compared this film to a movie that came out earlier this year, The Raid:Redemption. Both movies take place mostly in a tower, and in both movies the hero has to go through the thugs in the tower to get to the big boss. The Raid:Redemption has a lot choreographed martial art filmed fights while Judge Dredd lets his “lawgiver” pistol do all of the action. I enjoyed both movies. The Raid:Redemption is out on DVD if you want to compare them.

In my geek opinion, I thought Karl Urban did a good job as Dredd, tough and sneering. Fans of the comics will be happy to know Dredd never takes his helmet off, which was a big no-no in the 1995 movie. Lena Headey was great as the sadistic, take-no-prisoners Ma-Ma. I would love a 3rd movie to explore more of Mega City 1, more story-lines, and to have more Dredd.

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